Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is an important crop in tropical regions of China. In October 2013, a new stem rot disease was found on cv. Yunyan77-4 at a rubber tree plantation in Hekou, Yunnan Province. There were about 100 plants, and diseased rubber trees accounted for 30% or less. Initially, brown-punctuate secretion appeared on the stem, which was 5 to 6 cm above the ground. Eventually, the secretion became black and no latex produced from the rubber tree bark. After removing the secretion, the diseased bark was brown putrescence, but the circumambient bark was normal. Upon peeling the surface bark, the inner bark and xylem had brown rot and was musty. The junction between health and disease was undulate. On the two most serious plants, parts of leaves on the crown were yellow, and the root near the diseased stem was dry and puce. The pathogen was isolated and designated HbFO01; the pathogenicity was established by following Koch's postulates. The pathogen was cultivated on a potato dextrose agar (PDA) plate at 28°C for 4 days. Ten plants of rubber tree cv. Yunyan77-4 were selected from a disease-free plantation in Haikou, Hainan Province, and the stem diameter was about 7 cm. The bark of five plants was peeled, and one mycelium disk with a diameter of 1 cm was inserted into the cut and covered again with the bark. The other five plants were treated with agar disks as controls. The inoculation site was kept moist for 2 days, and then the mycelium and agar disk were removed. On eighth day, symptoms similar to the original stem lesions were observed on stems of inoculated plants, while only scars formed on stems of control plants. The pathogen was re-isolated from the lesions of inoculated plants. On PDA plates, the pathogen colony was circular and white with tidy edges and rich aerial hyphae. Microscopic examination showed microconidia and chlamydospores were produced abundantly on PDA medium. The falciform macroconidia were only produced on lesions and were slightly curved, with a curved apical cell and foot shaped to pointed basal cell, usually 3-septate, 16.2 to 24.2 × 3.2 to 4.0 μm. Microconidia were produced in false heads, oval, 0-septate, 6.2 to 8.2 × 3.3 to 3.8 μm, and the phialide was cylindrical. Chlamydospores were oval, 6.4 to 7.2 × 3.1 to 3.8 μm, alone produced in hypha. Morphological characteristics of the specimen were similar to the descriptions for Fusarium oxysporum (2). Genomic DNA of this isolate was extracted with a CTAB protocol (4) from mycelium and used as a template for amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA with primer pair ITS1/ITS4 (1). The full length of this sequence is 503 nt (GenBank Accession No. KJ009335), which exactly matched several sequences (e.g., JF807394.1, JX897002.1, and HQ451888.1) of F. oxysporum. Williams and Liu had listed F. oxysporum as the economically important pathogen of Hevea in Asia (3), while this is, to our knowledge, the first report of stem rot caused by F. oxysporum on rubber tree in China.
References: (1) D. E. L. Cooke et al. Fungal Genet. Biol. 30:17, 2000. (2) J. F. Leslie and B. A. Summerell. The Fusarium Laboratory Manual, 2006. (3) T. H. Williams and P. S. W. Liu. A host list of plant diseases in Sabah, Malaysia, 1976. (4) J. R. Xu et al. Genetics 143:175, 1996.
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